Short term rehabilitation programs are an important component of heath care, providing essential support to patients as they recover after serious medical events. Hospitals and physicians routinely recommend rehab programs for patients who, while no longer in need of acute medical care in a hospital, are not yet fully recovered and require additional therapy and care. What do these patients need to consider as they explore their rehabilitation options?
What is Short Term Rehabilitation?
Short term rehab programs are designed to provide transitional care for patients who are being discharged from the hospital but require or could benefit from a period of medical monitoring and/or rehabilitative therapy and treatment before returning home.
Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals who specialize in rehabilitative medicine. The primary goal of care is to help patients recover and rehabilitate as quickly and completely as possible, which is done via services that include nursing care; pain management; wound care; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and nutritional care, among others. These services are offered as components of comprehensive and individualized rehabilitative care plans.
Short term rehab programs are offered in a number of venues, including regular hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and specialized rehabilitation facilities. The amount of time patients stay in these programs varies greatly from one patient to another according to need, but is most often less than 30 days.
Who Can Benefit?
Rehabilitative services are frequently recommended for surgical patients and can be especially important to optimal recovery and rehabilitation in patients who have had orthopedic surgeries like joint replacement procedures or surgical repair of bone fractures or soft tissue injuries. Patients who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or other cardiac event, including coronary bypass or other cardiac procedures, often use rehabilitation programs for safe, effective help in recovering. Patients who have experienced severe diabetes-related health incidents, have been hospitalized for other serious illnesses, have suffered complex head or spinal injuries, or need advanced wound care may also have their recovery and rehabilitation needs best served by a short term rehabilitation program.
Important Points About Choosing a Program
Patients who are considering short term rehabilitation will generally have the opportunity to choose among a number of options in and around their local area. Here are some points to consider as you make that choice:
- Credentials and reputation – Make sure that the short term rehab you choose is a licensed rehabilitation facility and is certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as a quality program. Additionally, checking with your health care team and hospital social workers about the reputations of local facilities for quality-of-care can aid in choosing a good program.
- Experience and specialties – Find out whether programs you're considering specialize in or have extensive experience in meeting the rehabilitative needs of patients with conditions similar to yours. For instance, if you've had heart surgery, you want a program that routinely treats heart patients; if you've had knee replacement, you need a center that regularly helps joint replacement patients.
- Insurance details – Is the center on your provider list? Does it accept your insurance, and what steps do you need to take to ensure coverage? Looking into these details ahead of time can help ensure that you'll have the best coverage possible for your stay and that you'll get no unpleasant surprises later.
These are the basic details you need to know about short term rehabilitation. If your health care team has suggested this program to you, chances are your recovery will be easier, safer, faster, and more successful if you follow that advice.